BANGALORE, India — In comments Feb. 6, the U.S. ambassador to India applauded the “level of commitment” American firms have shown toward partnering with the Asian powerhouse.
Representatives from American companies gathered to hear Ambassador Nancy Powell’s remarks, delivered as part of a ribbon-cutting ceremony opening the American pavilion at the Aero India show in Bangalore.
“I want you to know the U.S. government and our mission in India stand beside you as you embrace the opportunities of the Indian defense sector,” Powell said. “Our growing defense partnership is one of our greatest success stories, leveraging the best innovative efforts of our government, people and industries.”
While praising the growing relationship between the two countries, Powell also acknowledged the challenges U.S. companies have faced moving into India and promised that the government is working to change India’s famously protectionist policies.
“The U.S. government understands the challenges industry faces with the pace of contract negotiations and program execution, the complexity of executing offset obligations, and obstacles to transfer of technology,” Powell said. “We are working with the government of India and the private sector in both India and the U.S. to reduce obstacles, overcome challenges, and foster development of the defense and aerospace sectors to the benefit of both nations.”
After delivering her remarks, the ambassador took a brief tour of the companies present at the American pavilion.
Accompanying the ambassador on her tour were several U.S. Air Force personnel, who drove home the importance of developing relations with India.
The show is a “good opportunity for the U.S. military to interact with partners from around the world and show some of the capabilities that we have,” Capt. Ben Sakrisson, U.S. Air Force spokesman, told Defense News.
As part of that showcase, “around 50” USAF personal are attending the show, Sakrisson said. Included are demonstration teams for the C-17 transport plane and the F-16 fighter jet. While this is standard practice for a large show like Aero India, it is notable at a time when Air Force leadership has directed a cutback in flights at air shows to save money.
Sakrisson said the Pentagon, like Powell, feels strongly about having a visible U.S. presence in Bangalore.
“This is an event that has been deemed by DoD as a very important one for us to show a presence at,” Sakrisson said. “It’s seen as a mission thing for us; it’s very important for the U.S. to be here. I know they have cut back on [events], but this is a very important show for us.”
He added that the Air Force presence is only for the Bangalore event, and that he was unaware of any plans for personnel to take part in meetings or joint exercises with their Indian counterparts.